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Europe in 1648 (was: Re: the English language part 2)

From: Emanuel Berg
Subject: Europe in 1648 (was: Re: the English language part 2)
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2019 00:58:04 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)

Marcin Borkowski wrote:

> And Poland used to be one of the two main
> powers in Europe one day, btw [...]

I checked my historical atlas [1], and it seems
that Poland was at its biggest around the
Peace of Westphalia, in 1648.

Granted, Poland was _huge_ then, but "one of the
two main powers"?

To the East, Russia, always notoriously
difficult to deal with no matter what.

To the Southeast, the Ottoman Empire (Turks and
subjugated people), also huge.

To the South, no worries, still no embryotic
modern-day Italy, instead a Papal State and
otherwise a large degree of fragmentation.

To the Southwest, Spain, in their
"Siglo de Oro" [2], the 16-17th century, when
they controlled large parts of the world,
notably South America. However much of that
gold got robbed by French buccaneers or ended
up in Dutch and English banks. People even made
light of the Spaniard's proud but outdated
ships, which were called "bathtubs". On dry
land tho, another matter altogether - a force
of titanic might, at times
virtually unbeatable.

To the West, France, by that time unified by
a wide margin, marching the fields and sailing
the seas. Like everyone else, France was
exhausted by The Thirty Years' War, which
France was ill prepared for. Still a power of
significance thruout the century and onwards.

To the Northwest, the Netherlands. As always,
brilliant in craft, seamanship, and commerce.
The unpredictable Joker of the European deck,
but vulnerable to land attacks from the much
larger countries.

Outside of continental Europe, England,
unified, if that is the right word, with
Ireland and Scotland. Naval supremacy and ever
the intelligence powerhouse of military,
political, and financial intrigue. Innovative,
on the threshold of the industrial revolution,
which ultimately would conquer the globe.

To the North, Sweden. A poor country like many
others, but disciplined, efficient, and
militaristic to the teeth. Held territories in
the Baltic region and caused unproportional
bloodshed thruout Europe. For example,
King Karl X Gustav took his armies into Poland,
and not exactly along a straight line!

And last but not least, at the very heart of
continental Europe, The Holy Roman Empire,
consisting of fragmented, still enough united
Germans (and other peoples) to give every
opponent a tough enough deal.

So at least for 1648, there seems to be several
very strong contenders, not excluding Poland,
of course :)

[1] @book{atlas-till-historien,
      author     = {Generalstabens litografiska anstalt},
      ISBN       = {91-21-13074-4},
      publisher  = {Almqvist \& Wiksell},
      title      = {Atlas till historien},
      year       = 1993

[2] Literally "Century of Gold" or perhaps
    "Golden Century" (?), but in English it is
    called "The Spanish Golden Age"

underground experts united

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